by Sarah Albrecht
At one of our chapter meetings a few months ago, Rene Allen read an intriguing idea from the draft of her memoir: the truths we learn as children, whether they are indeed “true” or not, stay with us into adulthood and affect our actions and views of the world.
In first grade, I learned a series of truths, the good kind, when my teacher's son joined the musical touring group Up With People (which had a headquarters in my hometown of Tucson). I had already been exposed to some of those ideas at home or at church, but singular experience tends to crystallize amorphous thought.
For me, that singular experience began when Mrs. Gooder, my teacher, involved her whole class and their families in Up With People. The class visited her home and listened to her son play the drums. Our family hosted Eddie Joyner, a twenty-year-old pianist from Georgia, in our home. We bought Up With People’s 1977 album. We went to their concert. That year and in the years to follow, I pored over lyrics in the album and memorized as many as possible. When I came to a song with Spanish lyrics, I pored over the Spanish and the English until the second gave reason to the first.
I came out on the other side of Up With People with truths that would shape the rest of my life: Music has great power, over groups and individuals. Playing the piano well is really cool. Not understanding Spanish drove me crazy, so I’d better learn it. Mastery takes a lot of practice.
And from the lyrics: Other countries—Mexico, in this case--have families that love each other and want good lives, too. You can play in any key and it comes out the same in the fourth grade band. War takes away childhood. Seen from the moon, the earth doesn’t have any borders. Our perceptions can influence reality (I think this is Rene’s truth stemming from perception). People are the best kind of folks we know.
I’m posting this early, scheduling it for my Friday, because I’ll be in Mexico with my husband when it runs. While I'm there, I’ll dust off my Spanish and walk down high-curbed streets knowing that behind closed doors I could find families that love each other.
And that’s the truth.